I have been a little short on reader mail lately, but this week makes up for the slow weeks. I say "good job" to those that sent in recipes to pass along. Keep the mail coming.
Rita Burk of Cape Girardeau sent me several recipes she wanted to pass along to readers of this column. She added her comments on each recipe, and they are helpful.
Apricot Almond Biscotti
Rita has become quite a lover of biscotti, and this recipe is one of her favorites.
1/4 cup flour
1 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon vanilla
2/3 cup dried apricot halves, chopped
1/2 cup whole-wheat flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, cold, cut into pieces
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 cup almond slivers
1 teaspoon granulated sugar
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large mixing bowl combine first five ingredients. Add butter and vanilla; mix until mixture resembles coarse meal. Add eggs and blend. Add apricots and almonds. Blend until mixture is evenly moistened. Using your hands, form into dough. Divide dough in half. Place parchment paper on a baking sheet. Shape dough into two 12-inch logs and lay on parchment paper. With hands, flatten each log to a width of 2 inches. Sprinkle each log with remaining sugar. Bake 25 minutes or until golden brown. Remove logs and place on cooling rack for 10 minutes. With serrated knife, carefully cut logs on the diagonal into 1 inch slices. Place on baking sheet cut side up; return to oven and bake 7 minutes, or until lightly browned. Transfer to rack and cool completely. Makes 2 dozen.
Quick Country Pie
2 sticks butter, melted
2 cups sugar
1 cup coconut
1 cup pecans, chopped or broken (could use walnuts)
1 cup chocolate chips
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Melt butter and add chocolate chips; heat until chips are melted. Add remaining ingredients. Pour into 2 unbaked pie shells. Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes. Makes 2 pies. Carmel chips works as well as chocolate. This is a good quick pie to make if company comes before you are ready. This pie is always a crowd pleaser and enjoyed by all.
Creamy Watermelon Pie
1 (3-ounce) package watermelon gelatin
1/4 cup boiling water
1 (12-ounce) carton frozen whipped topping, thawed
2 cups cubed, seeded watermelon
1 9-inch graham cracker crust
Dissolve gelatin in boiling water. Cool to room temperature. Fold in the whipped topping, then the watermelon. Spoon into the crust. Refrigerate at least 2 hours, or until set. Garnish with watermelon balls and mint or parsley if desired.
Note: Rita only used about 10 ounces of whipped topping in the pie and garnished the edges of pie with the other 2 ounces. This is good the first day but better the second day. Rita laid the watermelon pieces on a piece of paper towel to drain some. The only place in town she was able to find watermelon gelatin is Wal-Mart. This pie is much better than it sounds.
Country-Style Sausage Gravy
1 pound seasoned sage sausage
2 tablespoons finely chopped onion
6 tablespoons flour
1/2 teaspoon poultry seasoning
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon salt
Dash of Worcestershire sauce
Dash of pepper sauce (optional)
1 quart milk
Cook sausage until brown, add onion and continue cooking till onions are tender; drain slightly leaving at least 2 tablespoons drippings. Stir in the flour and cook until it bubbles, and turns golden; stir in the milk and the rest of the ingredients. Cook, stirring until gravy is thickened; spoon over fresh hot biscuits while hot.
Note: Rita does not use the pepper sauce. She made the full recipe and had to get up and make another pan full when she had company. Rita says it is delicious, and she has made gravy for years without a recipe, but always uses this one now. She usually makes 1/2 of this recipe for 2 people.
Corny Corn Bread
2 boxes of Jiffy corn bread mix
1 stick margarine or butter
1 (8-ounce) carton of sour cream
1 large can of cream-style corn
1/4 cup chopped onion, if desired.
Melt butter in a 9-by-13-inch pan, then mix all ingredients well and pour into the melted butter. Swirl the melted butter around the top of the batter so it is evenly distributed and does not puddle. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 to 40 minutes or until golden brown on top.
Rita usually just makes 1/2 of the recipe for the 2 people, and bakes it in a 9-inch cast iron skillet. It is good and moist and keeps well.
Garbage Bucket Dinner
Peggy Miles of Cape Girardeau is a Senior Center volunteer and shared this recipe with me last week. It sounds like one of those great put-together meals that can serve a lot with little effort. This would be good with the corn bread listed above.
1 head cabbage, cleaned and quartered
5 to 6 potatoes, peeled and quartered
1 bag baby carrots
2 peppers, seeded and quartered
2 onions, quartered
1 ring kielbasa or Polish sausage
6 small cans whole-kernel corn
Layer ingredients in the order listed in a large stock pot or kettle; add salt and pepper in each layer. Add 1 cup water. Cover and cook on medium for 1 hour.
Almost Coffee Cake
Reva McClain is also a volunteer at the Senior Center. Each Thursday someone brings in a dessert, and we sell it for a little fundraiser. Last week she gave me a copy of the recipe for that day's cake, which was made by Mary Pelts.
1 box yellow cake mix, with the pudding in the mix
2 boxes instant vanilla pudding mix
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 cup water
1/2 cup oil
1/2 cup sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 cup chopped pecans
1 cup powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/2 tablespoons water
Butter and flour a 9-by-13-inch pan. Mix and beat together the cake mix, pudding, eggs, vanilla, water and oil in mixer bowl on medium speed for 2 minutes. In a separate bowl, mix together sugar, cinnamon, and pecans for topping mix. Spoon half of the cake batter in pan, sprinkle half of the topping mix over batter; spoon on remaining batter mix. Smooth with spoon and sprinkle rest of topping on top. Insert knife into mix and swirl around. Bake 40 minutes in 350 degree oven. Mix powdered sugar, vanilla and water together for glaze and drizzle over baked cake. Makes 16 servings.
I hope you enjoy reading mail from other readers. Maybe this will encourage you to send in your favorite recipe.
Have a terrific week, and until next time, happy cooking.
Susan McClanahan is administrator at the Cape Girardeau Senior Center. Send recipes to her at firstname.lastname@example.org or by mail at P.O. Box 699, Cape Girardeau, Mo. 63701. Recipes published have not been kitchen-tested by Southeast Missourian staff.